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CAMP CASEY, South Korea — Temporary measures to prevent the flooding that damaged Camp Casey and local businesses on July 12 now are in place until a permanent solution is found, Area I commander Col. Rick Newton said Friday.

Newton also disputed an earlier Area I damage assessment blaming the flooding primarily on the design of a dam built on the base in 2005.

He said it was too early to tell exactly what steps should be taken to shore up a water system that was overwhelmed by 8 inches of rain in 10 hours.

“The dam was built to provide us with 50 percent of our water supply … it does what it is supposed to do,” Newton said. “That’s the same water supply we use to fight fires and that in the past the city has drawn to fight fires.”

The dam was simply overrun by too much water, Newton said. As water rose several feet beyond the limits of Casey Creek, which runs for about 3.5 miles through the base, it poured over the top and sides of the wall.

After the flood, base workers dug trenches along the culverts that drain waters coming from the mountains behind the base, Newton said, and built a temporary mesh wall that adds 3 to 5 feet to the dam wall.

Dongducheon officials Thursday in part blamed the flooding of 69 businesses on the base’s not opening the flood gates until that afternoon. Newton said the gates were opened by 11 a.m., the same time the water pumps began operating.

The city also plans to ask the Army for compensation for damages, Kang Hong, city director of current issues for U.S. Forces counter plan division, said on Thursday.

Newton said the city and local residents long have been able to file claims for “maneuver damage.” If the city makes a claim, he said, an investigation will be conducted to determine whether the base was at fault.

Newton also confirmed the $1.6 million total estimate on damages to base property but expressed doubts about spending that much money.

“I’m not sure we should be spending [$1.4 million] of taxpayer money fixing a golf course,” Newton said.

Four buildings and infrastructure were also damaged during the flooding.

Camp Casey spent $34 million to repair and replace facilities and improve flood prevention measures following 1998 floods, when 26 inches of rain fell in 48 hours.

Those measures ultimately kept servicemembers safe during the storm, Newton said.

“My main concern is about soldiers getting killed and buildings being washed away with soldiers inside them,” Newton said. “I’m not dismissing what happened. I’m trying to approach this in an unemotional, rational way so we can figure out how this happened.”

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